MESPOM alumna'18 Anita Lazurko receives Trudeau Scholarship Award

May 26, 2020

From Canada to Europe to Sri Lanka to southern Africa, MESPOM alumna (2018) Anita Lazurko talks about her journey studying climate adaptation and transformations to sustainability in multiple cultural contexts. She is currently back in Canada for a PhD at the University of Waterloo and was a recent recipient of the prestigious Trudeau Scholarship Award. We are very proud! 

What are you currently doing?

I am in my first year of my PhD in Social and Ecological Sustainability. My research explores transformations toward more adaptive river basins that can cope with uncertain climatic and socio-economic futures. I am looking at how explicitly modelling the pluralism of problem framings and desired futures of different actors can help overcome systemic inertia and reveal opportunities to navigate toward more socially negotiated trajectories of change. I will be collaborating with actors in a case study river basin in Canada or Sri Lanka.

What role did MESPOM play for you in your journey - both professionally and personally?

I entered MESPOM with an engineering degree from a Canadian university and a yearning for a broader perspective on complexity and sustainability. I left with much more. During MESPOM I did internships with two international institutions in Canada and Sri Lanka. These internships opened doors for me post-graduation that sent me to southern Africa to work on transboundary strategic planning and to the Netherlands to work on natural infrastructure for climate adaptation. MESPOM gave me a broad set of skills to contribute to solving natural resource challenges with a high degree of interdisciplinarity and multicultural sensitivity. Further, the courses on systems thinking and resilience gave me the language and frameworks I needed to understand and address the complex challenges I encounter in the field. These aspects continue to inform my ongoing doctoral work.

More importantly, MESPOM was a life changing experience beyond my career. I met lifelong friends, travelled, and gained confidence in my adaptability and effectiveness as a professional and global citizen. Many of the other alumna in my MESPOM cohort continue to actively support one another. I also gained a fantastic mentor who continues to provide thought partnership and guidance.

IWMI 2018

What lies next for you?

In the long term, I want to contribute to addressing the urgent challenge of making inclusive, effective decisions in environments of significant uncertainty and complexity. For the next 3 years, I will be working on my doctoral research. After passing my comprehensive exams, I hope to facilitate a process of group model building with actors in my case study to generate the raw data I need to develop pluralistic transformation pathways for the river basin. I recently received the exciting news that I was chosen as a Trudeau Scholar, which provides generous financial support and leadership training with a cohort of 16 doctoral students from across Canada for 3 years. I am eager to see how this opportunity shapes my life and career. In the meantime, I will keep reading, doing yoga, spending time with family and friends, learning French, and traveling (once the coronavirus pandemic has passed!).